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We have an exciting opportunity for more members to join our Research Ethics Committees (RECs) and contribute to our work. We’re looking for people who are passionate about health and social care research to review applications for research studies, particularly registered healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

Our RECs protect research participants and facilitate ethical research. Committees review applications for research approval and are made up of volunteer members who give their time to make a difference. Their work is varied but includes some of the biggest challenges we face in health and social care today, from cancer to dementia, and more recently COVID-19. REC members are a mixture of experts (registered healthcare professionals, clinical trial statisticians and other experts in research) and lay members with an interest in health research ethics. Despite having different roles and experiences all members have a shared goal; to ensure research is ethical and fair.

Being part of an NHS Research Ethics committee can be hard work, but it is extremely rewarding. You have the chance to learn about new areas of research, meet talented researchers at the forefront of their disciplines and discuss complex issues with people from a variety of backgrounds.

Andy Hall, Emeritus Professor at Newcastle University and Chair of Newcastle and North Tyneside 2 Research Ethics Committee

Being a REC member offers more than just the chance to shape and improve health and social care research. We provide regular training and support our members’ development, both professionally and personally. REC members develop their knowledge and are kept up to date on the latest developments in research and ethics. Our clinical members also earn Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for their work with us.

Being part of the REC has allowed me to attend training sessions around the UK, expanding my knowledge of research ethics and practice at my own pace - while also giving me access to further opportunities to apply those skills.

Jack Bissett, member of the Surrey Borders Research Ethics Committee

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all of our committees are currently meeting virtually, via Zoom. Our members join from the clinic, the office or from your home. We have 64 Research Ethics Committees in England and our members are encouraged to join a committee that meets at a time to suit them. We also offer role sharing so that you can join with a colleague and share the workload of being part of a Research Ethics Committee.

The committee meetings are 10 times per year which fits in with my busy lifestyle as a mother of two young boys and a full time nurse working in an acute NHS Trust, whilst also studying part-time for my MSc.

Carrie Ridley, Alternate Vice Chair of Brighton and Sussex Research Ethics Committee.

What we need

We need members who can commit to:

  • attending full REC meetings on a monthly basis (we ask that members attend a minimum of six meetings a year). Meetings last about four to five hours and require five to six hours of reading in preparation. We currently meet virtually, but if you did need to travel for a meeting any travel costs will be reimbursed in line with the HRA committee members reimbursement of expenses guidance;
  • taking part in sub-committee work (reviewing applications with no material ethical issues or amendments to approved research) as well as full REC meetings (approximately two to three times a year) with two hours reading for each subcommittee meeting;
  • reviewing research applications electronically through our members’ portal or email; and
  • induction training within your first six months of appointment, equality, diversity and human rights training within your first year of appointment and then complete a minimum of five hours training related to research ethics for each year as a REC member.

Your interests

  • Protecting patients and public
  • Health research
  • Research ethics
  • Developments in healthcare
  • Working with a group of member from a variety of backgrounds

Skills required

  • Ability to read, understand and analyse complex issues and weigh up conflicting opinions
  • Ability to take an objective stance, looking at a situation from several perspectives
  • good communication with a practical approach and the confidence to voice your opinions.

Skills gained

  • Understanding of research ethics
  • Increased knowledge in research including methodology and statistics
  • Understanding of relevant legislation
  • Specialised knowledge, for example paediatric research or adults lacking capacity to give consent
  • Enhanced committee skills: summarising, debating, evaluating and decision making
  • Opportunity to train for the role of a REC Officer i.e. Chair or Vice Chair

Attend a REC meeting to find out more

If you would like to come along to observe a REC meeting you can do so easily by contacting member.recruitment@hra.nhs.uk.

Does this sound like something you might be interested in?

For more information or to apply to become a REC member, please read the information below:

Please refer to the person specification when making an application:

In order to submit your completed application form or if you have any questions about joining a REC, please contact us at member.recruitment@hra.nhs.uk.

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